The Transat Saint-Barth – Port la Forêt (formerly the Transat B to B) will celebrate its third edition this December 2015. Run in the years preceding the Vendée Globe and created to serve as a solo qualifier on the way back from the Transat Jacques Vabre, the Transat Saint-Barth – Port la Forêt is obviously a lot more than that. A training course in similar conditions to those in the Vendée Globe, a confrontation between skippers and boats of different generations and a final technical trial prior to the winter refits, it is the perfect springboard with a view to the events scheduled for 2016.
Four years ago, it was a newcomer to the IMOCA class, one François Gabart who, in his very first race in singlehanded configuration, secured a win right from under the noses of racers as experienced as Vincent Riou, Armel Le Cléac’h and also Alex Thomson. Evidence then of the relevance of this race which, not content with revealing new talent, also serves as a fantastic trial run for machines that are sure to be put through their paces in the Southern Ocean.
From the paradise of the West Indies to the hub of offshore racing
St Barts: with the port of Gustavia as a backdrop, the IMOCA fleet will come together prior to setting sail on this winter transatlantic bound for Europe. St Barts and its unforgettable landscapes have long been renowned as a venue for hosting major offshore races and will provide a final taste of the tropical sunshine before the IMOCAs plunge into winter.
Port la Forêt: it’s here that it all began. Indeed this port on France’s north-western tip is the cradle of offshore racing and its name has become synonymous with the victories secured by the members of its local Pôle Finistère Course au Large racing hub. In fact, it is no coincidence that the winners of the last four Vendée Globes have all come from this very training centre. For this particular edition of the race, three of the participants in this Transat Saint-Barth – Port la Forêt are members of the centre (Paul Meilhat, Yann Eliès and Sébastien Josse). One of them, Paul Meilhat, has settled in Port-la-Forêt with his shore team.
An economic fabric that has formed a close-knit community
At the heart of Sailing Valley, Port la Forêt is one of the prime movers in the development of cutting edge businesses, which work in the offshore racing domain. Design offices, yards, service providers, all of them contribute to the development of an economic network that is emblematic of the Breton region.
The Island of St Barts (or Saint Barthelemy) - who will be welcoming the IMOCA 60s in Gustavia Harbour for 8 days, the Région Bretagne (Breton region), the Finistère Departmental Council and the village of La Forêt Fouesnant were of course keen to make their contribution to this Transat Saint-Barth – Port la Forêt. Several major technical partners, including the navigation software supplier Adrena and marine cartography supplier C-Map will also be supporting the race by supplying Race Management with their services.
An exceptional sports fixture
The course for this Transat Saint-Barth – Port la Forêt once again promises some thrilling action. Initially the fleet will have to file northwards to extract themselves from the tradewinds and hunt down the disturbed westerly winds, which should enable them to traverse the Atlantic at high speed in favourable downwind conditions. Among the participants, are a number of familiar faces from the IMOCA circuit like Yann Eliès, triple winner of the Solitaire du Figaro and third in the Transat Jacques Vabre, and Sébastien Josse, who will be lining up for his third Vendée Globe next November. Competing against them, the upcoming generation will be represented by Paul Meilhat and Thomas Ruyant.
The programme for the Transat Saint-Barth – Port la Forêt
List of entries on 19 November
The course and the organisation
Jean Kerhoas, President of the IMOCA Class
“Given the incidents that occurred in the Transat Jacques Vabre, one might well be concerned about the content of the line-up for this Transat Saint-Barth – Port la Forêt. However, it was important for us to run this race, which offers the sailors the opportunity of qualifying for the Vendée Globe and above all constitutes another test run and hence another chance to hone the boats with a view to the round the world. In the end, with eight boats signed up, we’ve got the same quota as in previous editions, which proves that the IMOCA class is in good health. Added to that, the confrontation between boats from different generations and between newly arrived skippers and old hands of the IMOCA Ocean Masters circuit promises to be exciting viewing.”
Jean-Marc Tanguy, Vice-Chairman of the Finistère Departmental Council
“A transatlantic race is synonymous with freedom, which it is important to remember in the current context. It’s also about sport, which is a genuine source of social cohesion. Offshore racing reflects the values of solidarity and mutual aid. It is for these reasons in particular, that the Finistère Departmental Council is very proud to participate in this race.”